Below are summaries from the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook, provided by the National Interagency Fire Center, for the period of January 2021 through April 2021. The full outlook can be located here.

Statistics Through End of Year 2020:

Year-to-date statistics Number of Fires Acreage Burned
2020 (01/01/20 – 12/31/20) 58,258 10,274,679
2010-2019 – Year-to-Date Average 62,882 6,789,149
Percentage of 10-year Average 92.65% 151.34%


The table above indicates this season was just below average in number of fires, but over 50% higher than an average year for total acreage. Several individual fires set records for acres burned last year.

Observations in December:

Scattered fire activity was present in the Southern Area during December, but large fire activity was absent. Despite multiple offshore wind events, California saw no significant fire starts. Northern California received some rainfall in mid and late December, and Southern California received rainfall during the last week of December. The precipitation events significantly reduced the fire potential for California during the month of December.
La Niña conditions continue to affect the weather and climate patterns across the country. Much of the country experienced below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures last month. Though the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast received above normal precipitation, drought conditions persist across much of the country. The West and Plains are observing expanding and intensifying drought conditions. The Southwest, Great Basin, Colorado Rockies, and southern High Plains are in exceptional drought.

Drought Monitor Map of the United States – Current as of January 2021

Wildland Fire Outlook for January-April:

In the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, La Niña conditions will persist through March. Sea surface temperatures remain below average. Due to these conditions, warmer and drier than normal conditions are forecast across the southern United States. The Southwest and southern High Plains are forecast to see the highest impact of these conditions. Significant fire potential is forecast to be above normal for these regions through Spring. Northern and Southern California is forecast to have normal or near normal significant fire potential, due to expected precipitation during this period. Areas of significant or exceptional drought will see above average fire potential through Spring.

Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook – January 2021

Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook – February 2021

Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook – March 2021

Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook – April 2021

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